A Love of Cultures - A Knack for Languages!

By Will Seagers


Hi folks, Will here. Although I consider myself neither a consummate world traveler nor an accomplished linguist, it has brought me great pleasure throughout my life to study, visit and listen to the people of many lands.

Admittedly, I was born with a curiosity bug. Even as a wee child, I wondered how things worked and what things meant on a larger scale. My first exposure to a foreign language was through my great aunt and her Finnish family. She was my mom's aunt through marriage. Although like myself she was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the rest of her family and lots of her friends were born in Finland, primarily Helsinki.


View of Finland with Finnish flag

I remember hearing my great aunt's parents (who lived above her in their city duplex home) chattering away in Suomi (what the Finns call the Finnish language), not understanding a word of it. I loved visiting for not only the exposure to this marvelous tongue but to savor a treat and a staple in most Finnish homes - "Finnish Bread," correctly known as Pulla. A loaf would be left out on the kitchen table where coffee, tea and just nibbling would be the treat of the weekends. I loved it. Almost like a coffee cake but not nearly as sweet, it helped me develop a taste for more subtle flavors that would remain with me throughout my life.


Loaf of pulla
Loaf of pulla

My great aunt would occasionally join their conversations. I would watch and listen very intently. Afterwards when we went downstairs to her flat, I would ask her what certain English words were in Suomi. That started it all. I learned some very basic vocabulary and some wonderful little phrases that I would recite to myself and my siblings. It is interesting to note that until the mid 1800s, Finnish children were taught Swedish in school. Their own Finno-Ugric based language had not yet become recognized!

Next in my timeline was second grade. I had just escaped the rigors of parochial schools for kindergarten and first grades. I was so afraid of the nuns that I literally had stomach cramps as I left for school in the mornings! In second grade, things changed. I had a wonderful repatriated French lady as my teacher. "Miss Garneau" was lovely and had a charming French accent. She occasionally peppered her teaching with French vocabulary. Although it wasn't until high school where I actually took French classes for three years, the seed had been planted for me to study this language.

Spanish. While in a rather progressive middle school and in sixth grade, we the students were offered the opportunity to take primary level languages. My childhood buddy Michael and I chose Spanish. I have mentioned Michael in a number of prior blogs. We had fun bantering our basic phrases back and forth. I found myself progressing rather rapidly in terms of grasping both vocabulary and grammar. I tucked this away to use with my future study of French. And, many years later in 2008, I won a prize at work in a sales contest for a trip to Barcelona. Funny thing... that part of Spain preferred Catalan or even French over Spanish. At the time of my visit, political upheavals were happening in downtown Barcelona! The town and surrounding areas were quite beautiful. The food was amazing, too. Being on the Mediterranean, seafood of all kinds was abundant. I had never seen olives the size of baseballs before!


Sagrada Família in Barcelona
Sagrada Família in Barcelona
Will in Barcelona
Will at 57 in Barcelona, 2008

Oh! Let's not leave out Puerto Rico, where I was based as a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines. The Spanish was quite different and very colloquial. It was amazing just how much I could understand from my background in French. And oh là là, those Puerto Rican men!


Beach of San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico

French. As I just mentioned, Miss Garneau was the catalyst to start me on a lifelong Francophile journey! I was lucky to have a very talented and very strict French teacher for my three year stint in high school. Although he did not have the best of accents, he was thorough and complete with instructing vocabulaire and grammaire! I took to this language like a duck to water. I fantasized about seeing Paris and then traveling out to Normandy to see Mont-Saint-Michel - the legendary castle fortress on its own island! Well, with some of the funds that I had been making in movies and print work, I finally made it to Amsterdam and Paris with my first partner Tommy in 1988. Oh! And, let's not leave out that I used this French to make announcements as a flight attendant. "Eastern vous souhaite la bienvenue!"

Amsterdam was easy... everybody spoke English (as well as all of the other principal European languages.) Tommy and I visited the legendary bath houses while there. We both got in "trouble." But, the fellow I tricked with was very charming and decided to come with us to Paris... our next stop. While in Amsterdam, my trick and now our tour guide showed us much of what this city had to offer as well as teaching me a few Dutch words and phrases.


Amsterdam canals
Amsterdam canals
Will in Amsterdam
Will at 65 in Amsterdam, 2016

Back to French - or should I say France! After having taken a wonderful train from Amsterdam to Paris, we arrived at Gare du Norde (the northern Parisian train station) and boarded a taxi to get to our little hotel - Hotel Claude Bernard - by the University Sorbonne. So, here it is "showtime!" I had to speak French with a French person. I was quite daunted, to say the least. After pouring out my carefully picked phrases to our charming lady taxi driver, she said I did a great job! Whew! that was a relief. I didn't take many photos of France, as I had a camcorder with me - that got quite a workout! The three of us had a wonderful time seeing the sites of Paris with me, "Mr. DeMille," filming away!


Eiffel Tower with rainbow


Will at Notre Dame, 1998
Will at 47 in Notre Dame, 1998
Will at the Arc de triomphe
Will at the Arc de triomphe, 2016

I decided to rent a small Peugeot and take a run out to Normandy to see Mont-Saint-Michel. I remember holding my breath as we negotiated our way out of Paris and onto the open road west. I also remember nearly wrecking the car as I yanked it over to the side of the road when I first laid eyes on Mont-Saint-Michel! It was more magical and mystical than I ever could have imagined. A castle rising out of the North Atlantic! It was one of the highlights of the whole European trip.


Will in Versailles, 2016
Will in Versailles, 2016


And finally, German! While I took French in high school my friend Michael took German, as did one of my younger siblings. Michael delighted in showing me that you had to wait to the end of the sentence to argue with anybody because that's where the verb was! For me, it wasn't until junior college that I took German as an elective course. I LOVED IT! Once again, I took to it like a duck to water. I loved the vivid differences in grammar and pronunciation from French. What I learned in one very short semester has stayed with me to present - including pronunciation. I was and still am able to construct minor conversations with a few of my German speaking friends... all of this from a six week course. Ich habe nicht vergessen!


Rothenburg, Germany
Rothenburg, Germany

So, I have "tasted" a fair amount of the world by travel and language. It is wonderful to feel a part of this beautiful globe of ours!


Bio of Will Seagers:

Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted careers and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model, film performer, and DJ, just to name a few. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.

Will Seagers, present day image


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1
The Wheels of Steel
Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s
An Alphabet Soup of Powders and Pills
Merry Christmas (and Getting Re-Organized)
Now and Then
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: "Just Another Stroll Down the Castro!"
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Hamburger Mary's
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Long Live the Stud!
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Club Life..."Hit me with your Rhythm Stick!”
A "Split Ticket" - SoMa/Folsom and The Haight!
Back to Basics: "Staying Vanilla in a Flavorful Culture!"
A Little Secret
"I love a Parade!" Recollections of the 1977 S.F. Gay Pride Parade
Pics, Pics & More Pics... Life's a Beach
Flora & Fauna - the Flora part anyway!
Once Is Just Not Enough! 


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